It has become customary to have a friend of the chosson speak at his aufruf or sheva brachos. Although I am not familiar with any real source for this “minhag,” when done correctly it can add significantly to the simcha.
Historically, this speech would feature one of the chosson‘s closest friends highlighting his most exemplary middos, discussing his tremendous commitment to Torah learning, and any other unique attributes that the chosson possesses. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this oratory presentation would be the positive feelings it instilled in the hearts of the parents of the kallah.
Unfortunately, this once praise-filled address has been transformed to what surmounts to, in modern day vernacular, a “roast.” Alas it is now viewed by many as an ideal opportunity to publicly poke fun at the chosson by exposing some of his less than glamorous traits and recounting embarrassing experiences – granted, with no malicious intent whatsoever.
Everybody enjoys a good laugh, but at what expense? How can we trade in such a precious opportunity to add confidence and assurance for our own comedic grandeur? It’s great to be funny; we just have to make sure not to cross the line.
There are countless other examples of jokes that shouldn’t be said, or topics that shouldn’t be broached, and it would be impossible to try to dictate guidelines as to what is and what isn’t appropriate to be shared at an aufruf.
The responsibility lies completely upon the speaker to use his own “seichel.” There is a dictum that says, “You can’t teach seichel.”
We must raise awareness of the possibly overlooked perspective of the impact these words can have on the future in-laws. I implore of all future aufruf and sheva brachos speakers, when choosing your precious words, be sensitive to the fact that in addition to the chosson and his parents being in the room, the parents of the kallah are also present and listening to your words, maybe even more carefully than you would like.
Rabbi F. C.
The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on Matzav.com that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.